Senior men’s volleyball star Taylor Sander has some exceptional skills on the court. As one of the best volleyball players in the country, Taylor was recently named a preseason first-team All-American by Off the Block, voters being comprised of men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball reporters from around the nation.
Taylor had a remarkable 2013 season, starting every match, playing in every set, and leading the Cougars in kills (3.94 per set), attempts (33), aces (42) and digs (1.52 per set). BYU (26-5) had the best record in the country, finishing the season ranked second after falling to UC Irvine (25-7) in the final game of the NCAA Championship.
Sander grew up in Huntington Beach- a city known for it’s sandy beaches, surfing, and beach culture. Describing himself as "kind of a crazy kid," Taylor was into dirt biking, wakeboarding, skateboarding and surfing- activities he still enjoys when he get the chance. Volleyball, however, was in the family and Taylor inherited the gene.
Sander was recruited by the top volleyball schools in the country- USC, Long Beach State, and the 2012 National Champion UC Irvine. "But at the end of the day and in the back of my mind, I always knew I belonged at BYU."
"Playing for your school is an amazing experience and feeling," says Sander, who is always quick to share any praise he receives with his teammates. And teammates like Jaylen Reyes are quick to give the praise right back. "Taylor is a once-in-a-generation type of player. Players as gifted and talented as him don’t come around much."
In addition to playing for BYU, Sander has competed for the US Jr. National Team (where he led the team in kills in every match) and the US World League Team, where he was the youngest and only non-professional player on the team (including seven Olympic Gold medalists). His ultimate goal is to represent the United States in the Olympic Games. In the mean time, he says that his experience playing with the some of the best players in the world have inspired him to bring that leadership to BYU.
Here are the top 10 plays of the 2013 BYU Men’s Volleyball Season.
Sander returns to the court tonight (12/7) in the annual Blue and White match as the Cougars prepare to begin their 2014 season and another run at a national championship. The match will be played at the Smith Fieldhouse at 7p.m.